Tag Archives: higher ed

‘Rock star’ professor lectures + Lower-cost instructional facilitators = The future of higher education?

if Harvard is offering online courses with world famous professors, what exactly is the justification for offering an inferior product at a much higher cost? It is not at all clear why the “research university” model, with its extremely high costs and inflexible structure, should be the delivery system of choice for postsecondary education across the whole country. Many students might be much better served with a system in which a “rock star” professor delivers lectures online, while specially trained and qualified (but quite likely non-PhD) instructors lead discussions, work one-on-one with students, and grade papers.
A school set up like this would likely offer a much better quality of undergraduate education than lower-tier research universities offer today, with more individual attention and a much, much lower cost.

This kind of change would have to come almost literally over the dead bodies of the current faculties in many schools. . . .

These changes will ultimately be beneficial, though the costs will be real. Society simply needs more education than the classical research university can provide at an acceptable cost. Cheaper, better, more convenient and more democratic: it is hard to win a fight against an alternative that offers so much to so many.

In an ideal world, university professors and other intellectuals would have been thinking about these problems for many years. They would be the pioneers in innovation and experiment. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. The intellectual establishment is fully on the defensive. It is circling the wagons. It instinctively identifies attacks on the existing model with the worst kind of populist ignorance and bigotry. Nobody is angrier, nastier or more self-righteous than an intellectual whose livelihood is under threat.

Walter Russell Mead via http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/06/26/university-of-virginia-only-the-beginning

U. Wisconsin to offer self-paced, competency-based options

The unique self-paced, competency-based model will allow students to start classes anytime and earn credit for what they already know. Students will be able to demonstrate college-level competencies based on material they already learned in school, on the job, or on their own, as soon as they can prove that they know it. By taking advantage of this high quality, flexibility model, and by utilizing a variety of resources to help pay for their education, students will have new tools to accelerate their careers. Working together, the UW System, the State of Wisconsin, and other partners can make a high-quality UW college degree significantly more affordable and accessible to substantially more people.

The problem isn’t that America has “too much” education. The problem is that a 21st century society needs to be able to teach more skills to more people at a much lower cost and in much less time than our 20th century institutions can manage. It’s really that simple. The most urgent business of a state university system at this point must be to reform and improve the kind of education (in many cases, training) that can enable the state’s citizens of any and every age to acquire skills and prepare themselves to flourish in a rapidly changing economy.

Those who like myself are the products of the traditional elite educational system are naturally and properly concerned about the future of liberal as opposed to utilitarian education as this transformation takes place. But even we have to recognize that the first priority of state governments has to be to get the utilitarian stuff right.

Walter Russell Mead via http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/07/07/scott-walker-prepares-to-reform-higher-education

Where new learning models will thrive

There is incredible diversity within our higher-education system. I have personally witnessed a class taught by a full professor to two (2!) undergraduates at a wealthy liberal-arts college and read senior theses produced in close collaboration with full-time research faculty that would put most graduate work to shame. Online higher education can’t touch that. But I’ve also seen—and participated in—big lecture classes that are worse than well-designed online courses. The difference between what higher learning should be in theory and what it really is in practice (and what’s feasible given the current economic and funding environment) is vast. And it’s in that space that new organizations are going to thrive.

Kevin Carey via http://chronicle.com/blogs/brainstorm/freemium-higher-education/45333

The promise of the digital

The promise of the digital is not in the way it allows us to ask new questions because of digital tools or because of new methodologies made possible by those tools. The promise is in the way the digital reshapes the representation, sharing, and discussion of knowledge.

Mark Sample via http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/1-1/conversations/building-and-sharing-when-youre-supposed-to-be-teaching-by-mark-sample/.